Have you ever wished you could reduce your carbon footprint while feeding your family healthy local foods? The 2016 growing season is well underway and it’s not too late to participate in one of the many Seacoast-area CSA programs! Keep reading for some CSA 101 and your guide to the local programs offered throughout the Seacoast and beyond.
What is a CSA?
The acronym CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture. A concept rooted in the Biodynamic Farming movement, the CSA model fosters a partnership between farmer and consumer via a shared risk/reward membership-marketing structure. In its most basic form, customers pay a set “share” fee at the beginning of the growing season in exchange for weekly pickup of fresh seasonal fruits, veggies, and various other farm products. Typically, seasonal shares run May – October though many alternate options are available. The contents, structure and pickup locations vary from farm to farm making it certain that you can find the right fit for your needs. This structure creates a mutually beneficial system of security and capital for the farmer while providing high quality local products from a known source for the consumer.
What to Expect
Two decades ago, CSAs were few and far between and the choices of products were limited. I was quite happy with my CSA at that time but I had to drive a considerable distance for on-site pickup. Today the choices are marvelously varied. The diversified products available in addition to seasonal veggies might include: berries, apples, flowers, honey, dairy products, eggs, maple syrup, mushrooms, herbs, seedlings, bread, beef, chicken, pork, foraged items and even local seafood shares. Full veggie shares are in the range of $400-$600 and feed 2-5 while half shares can be had for around $200-$375 and feed 1-3. Some examples of add-ons include meats, eggs, dairy products, maple syrups, fruits, bread and mushrooms. At the end of the summer season many farms will offer a “winter share” which usually includes storage items such as onions, garlic, squash, carrots and other root vegetables OR a variety of greenhouse grown fresh produce. Winter shares are usually collected once a month and may also include options for local meats and eggs.
Weekly Pickup of seasonal farm selected produce – This model is the oldest and most straightforward of all the structures. You will pickup a weekly share of seasonal produce and product at a predetermined location. Often CSA owners will provide recipes and ideas for using unfamiliar products. Some farms with on site pickup allow for a “drop” table where you can discard items that don’t appeal to you and pickup others that have been traded. Most often with this style of pickup, you can choose from a variety of pickup locations most convenient to you.
Debit Style or Gift Card Program – Some CSAs will allow you to pay for a share in advance of the season at a discount and then use your credits to purchase whatever you want at the time of pickup. This method works better for families who want more autonomy with their selections.
Work Shares – Unable to pay in advance for your share? Many farms offer or require various arrangements for working shares and financial aid.
Benefits – Participants will learn about new foods, support local agriculture, reduce their carbon footprint, collaborate in local food production and potentially even gain some new farm skills. Farmers benefit by sharing risk with their participants and having a predetermined income stream.
Questions for the Farm
- What is the variety of vegetables and products offered?
- What are the growing practices of the farm? Organic, Non-GM, IPM, No-Spray, Antibiotic free, Pasture Raised, Grass-Fed? What is the total volume of produce expected?
- What are the running dates of the “share?” Seasonal shares are typically 16-20 weeks. Some also offer summer only, fall only or winter shares.
- What are the pickup locations?
- What are the payment requirements including work-share possibilities?
- What are the “missed pickup” protocols?
- What add-ons are offered and for what cost?
CSA Farms – ACT FAST to reserve your shares!
Abundance Acres Farm: Wildcraft/Foraged CSA – Monthly shares of herbal preparations, including tinctures, salves, syrups, and vinegars (June through November). Sampler shares available. Classes included. Pick-up locations: Strafford, Dover, Portsmouth. Contact: email@example.com (Post Author’s Farm)
Applecrest Farm: Fruit and veggie, market share, and herb and flower shares available. Add on options: eggs, bread, creamery, and milk. Pick-up locations in Portsmouth, Rye, Kingston and at the farm in Hampton Falls. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Bartlett Farm: Vegetable CSA shares available. Pick-up location at the farm in Eliot, ME. Contact: (207) 439-3083
Brookford Farm: Certified Organic. CSA shares can include grass-fed dairy products, vegetables, pasture raised eggs, pork, beef and broilers, farm grown/stone milled flour, bread and maple syrup. Farm pick-up in Canterbury. Other locations include: Concord, Dover, Epsom, Exeter, Gilford, Londonderry, Salem, Nashua, Portsmouth and Manchester. Partner Distributor Program will deliver right to home or business. email@example.com
Brasen Hill Farm: Boxed or market vegetable shares available in 3 sizes. Meat shares may include pasture raised pork, goat, lamb, chickens and eggs. Farm pick-up in Barrington. Additional locations in Northwood and Portsmouth. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Cannons at Noon Family Sheep Farm: Full and half vegetable shares available. June through October. Farm pick-up in Springvale, ME. Additional locations in Saco and York. Contact: email@example.com
Charmingfare Farm: One size vegetable shares. Meat shares may include beef, pork, turkey, chicken, goat, lamb and eggs. Shares include free zoo admission. May through October. Farm Pickup in Candia, NH. Contact: 603-483-5623
Fresh Start Farms: A project for the non-profit Organization for Refugee and Immigrant Success. Vegetable CSA shares. Family and single shares available for summer, fall, or full season. Pickup options in Bedford, Concord, Derry, Durham, Londonderry, Manchester, Merrimack, Newmarket, Salem and more. 14 locations total! Delivery to any location in the Greater Manchester or Seacoast area with a minimum of 10 shares. Bi-weekly payments can be made with SNAP/EBT benefits. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Heron Pond Farm: Vegetable CSA shares also include both our own small fruit and tree fruit from other New Hampshire farms. Summer and Winter greenhouse shares. Farm pick-up in South Hampton or at residential pick-up locations in Portsmouth and Dover. Add-ons: artisan cheese. Contact: 603-944-9405
Local Harvest CSA: Certified Organic. This is a multi-farm CSA with flexible options. Vegetable shares with bread option. Pork and Poultry Shares. Fall shares. Pick ups in Concord, NH and surrounding areas. Available June through October. Contact: email@example.com
Meadow’s Mirth Farm: Certified organic. Market choice CSA shares include vegetables and fruit. Winter shares, PYO blueberry shares and pastured pork also available. Farm Pick-up in Stratham. Additional locations in Exeter and Portsmouth. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Mildred’s Drumlin Farm: Certified Naturally Grown. Full and half shares available with egg, bread and chicken add-on options. June through October. Farm pick-up in Lee, NH. Contact: email@example.com
New Hampshire Community Seafood: Seafood shares from June through November. Pick up locations Dracut, Rollinsford, Nashua, Laconia, Canterbury, Manchester, Concord, Warner, Exeter, Dover, Durham, Peterborough, and at pier in Portsmouth. Contact: Andrea Tomlinson 603-767-7209
Red Manse Farm: Certified organic. CSA shares include vegetables, maple syrup, shiitake mushrooms, tree fruit. Pick ups locations in Northwood, Alton, Laconia, and Hooksett. Flexible Farm Patron Program on site farm in Loudon also available. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Riverside Farm: Flexible choice CSA shares include vegetables and all products sold at farm stand including bedding plants, breads, pies and more. Farm pick-up in North Berwick. Contact: email@example.com
Stone Wall Farm: Certified Organic farm offering summer/fall CSA shares including a wide variety of veggies, herbs, and flowers with pickup at the Portsmouth Farmers’ Market. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Three River Farmers Alliance: Multi- farm format! Products are sourced from 4 different area farms: Stout Oak, Heron Pond Farm, Meadow’s Mirth, and Tuckaway Farm. Weekly orders can be placed online or using the Three Rivers Mobile app. Deliveries are made to Manchester, Seacoast and North Shore, MA. Contact: email@example.com
Two Toad Farm: Summer Vegetable shares in Lebanon, ME; Marketshares in Sanford, ME, Portsmouth and Somersworth, NH. (save 20% at our markets on anything we sell); and a Seedling CSA (pre-planned garden). Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
White Cedar Farm: No-spray. Flexible choice gift card program; vegetables, eggs, pork. Additional local items available at farm stand. Farm pick-up in Kingston and markets in Dover, Exeter, Portsmouth, and Salem. Contact: email@example.com
Wolf Pine Farm: Summer and Winter shares for pickup in Alfred and Portland available with flexible payment plans. Vegetable share June through October. Grill share (Grass-fed beef, pork sausage, whole chicken) is a one time pickup in July. Delivery available for an additional fee. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Vernon Family Farm: Free choice, debit style CSA. You choose what you want at time of pick-up. Items available include vegetables, mushrooms, dried flowers and chicken products. Multiple share options for pickup at our Newfields farm store. Contact: Vernonfamilyfarm@gmail.com
(Courtesy of Seacoast Eat Local and Seacoast Harvest) This list is a healthy sampling of the various types of CSAs. A comprehensive list of Farms offering CSA shares can be found at Seacoast Harvest.